IBM to Build DOE Supercomputers

IBM signed a $290 million contract with U.S. Department of Energy to build the world's fastest supercomputers.

IBM has been tapped by the U.S. Department of Energy to build the two fastest supercomputers in the world.

Under the $290 million contract, IBM will build one computer that will be used for simulation and modeling work in connection with the countrys nuclear weapons program. The other will be used in scientific research to help predict changes in the global climate and track the relationship between the atmosphere and pollution.

The Armonk, N.Y., company expects to deliver the supercomputers over the next two to three years, with the first IBM eServers being delivered for one system sometime next year, according to Ravi Arimilli, an IBM fellow in Austin, Texas.

The Department of Energy is making the announcement on Tuesday at the Supercomputing 2002 show in Baltimore.

Combined, the two supercomputers—named the ASCI Purple and the Blue Gene/L—will provide a peak speed of 460 trillion calculations per second, and will have more than one-and-a-half times the combined processing power of all 500 computers currently on the Top500 list of supercomputers, according to IBM.

"Most trends you see in the industry are slowing down, but in the supercomputing environment, you see just the opposite," Arimilli said.